Ken Bourke

Hi I am Ken Bourke, proprietor of All About Conveyancing and welcome to our Conveyancing blog.

It deals with NSW Property Law and processes only. What you read here may not apply in any other state of Australia.

We will be updating our blog on a regular basis, so please check back soon.

We invite you to ask us something and you will get a reply within 24 hours – it’s us giving something back to the market that supports us.

Conveyancing Posts

What is Land Tax in NSW?

House on land depicting taxLand Tax is a tax levied on owners of land in NSW as at midnight on 31 December each year. Each owner is assessed based on the sum of unimproved values for all land held by that person at that moment. The following points are relevant:

• Unimproved values are as assessed by the Valuer General on 1 July in the preceding year,

• If you hold land jointly with another person then, only the share of that land owned by you is included in your assessment,

• Some land is exempt from the assessed sum, including:
o Your principal place of residence (but not if it is held by a corporation or trust),
o Farmland used for primary production
o Land used for low cost boarding houses
o Retirement Villages
o Residential Parks including Caravan Parks
o Aboriginal Land Council land
o Land used as a Child Care Centre

• There is a land tax threshold such that no land tax is payable until your assessed sum is greater than the threshold. For the 2017 year, the land tax threshold is $549,000.00,

• The amount of land tax payable will be calculated as 1.6% of the assessed sum greater than the threshold amount plus $100.00.

Land Tax is an issue to be dealt with in every conveyance of land in NSW:

• From the Vendor’s perspective, the onus is on you to disclose to the purchaser whether there is a land tax charge on the land and then it will be your obligation to clear the charge (if any) before the sale is completed.

• From the Purchaser’s perspective, you will need to ensure that the Vendor clears the land tax charge (if any) as it is a charge that goes with the land, if it is not dealt with.

If you need further assistance or have queries about your obligations in relation to land tax, please contact All About Conveyancing – conveyancing you can trust.

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Electronic Conveyancing gains momentum

e conveyancingElectronic Conveyancing is here. For some time, electronic conveyancing has been talked about as coming but life went on without it. Up until now, buying and selling property started online with lots of online tools for searching records, downloading documents, performing calculations etc., but up until very recently that process was completed (or settled) manually.

The manual settlement process required various parties to meet in one place, each contributing something to the settlement manually and each taking something away manually. Where money was involved, the handover was by way of bank cheques. Where documentation was involved, the documents had to be in “registrable form”. As you would expect, there were inevitable errors, which then resulted in delays to settlement; in fact 20% of all settlements were delayed to some extent.

Property Exchange Australia (PEXA) is a platform for e-conveyancing and is a collaboration between financial institutions, land registries and the Reserve Bank of Australia. It connects all participants to a transaction in a virtual space and allows the settlement to happen electronically. Of course, integrity of the network is crucial and the Australian Registrar’s National Electronic Conveyancing Council (ARNECC) has developed a framework to deal with participation agreements, digital certificates and verification of identity.

There are several significant advantages in using the PEXA platform:
a) It removes the need for physical signatures,
b) It removes the need for the physical attendance of any party,
c) It removes the duplication of effort across the parties within their own systems,
d) It increases the transparency of the process so that each party has access to real time updates from the other parties, and therefore greater certainty of settlement,
e) It will reduce the number of settlement failures,
f) Funds are distributed immediately as cleared funds,
g) Title is registered instantly therefore reducing the window for “registration gap” events.
PEXA will continue to grow in strength and momentum as:
a) more and more transaction types are included in the electronic process, and
b) more and more conveyancers become registered as PEXA participants. It is inevitable that all must ultimately follow suit.

All About Conveyancing are registered PEXA participants and PEXA is the platform of choice for all of our settlements. Got a conveyancing question, then talk to us.

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Swimming Pool Requirements – what you need to know

If you are selling a property in NSW with a swimming pool (or a spa pool), there are now certain requirements that need to be met:

  1. The swimming pool (or spa pool) must be registered on the NSW Swimming Pools Register. To register, go to
  2. A valid certificate of compliance, or an occupation certificate or a valid certificate of non-compliance must be attached to the Contract for Sale. The only exceptions to this rule are the sale of a lot in a strata scheme or community scheme with more than 2 lots or the sale of a lot off-the-plan.

The following points help to clarify these rules:

  • The rules apply to any excavation, structure or vessel (including inflatable pools) capable of being filled with water to a depth greater than 30cm,
  • The certificate described in item 2 above is a “prescribed document” to the contract, which means that if it is not attached, then the contract may be rescinded by the purchaser any time within 14 days of the exchange date,
  • The certificate of compliance (or non-compliance) can be issued by the local council or by an accredited private certifier. Here is a list of accredited private certifiers in NSW … Private Certifiers 9-9-16.pdf
  • The certificate of compliance or occupation certificate is only valid if it was issued within the last 3 years,
  • If a certificate of non-compliance is attached to the contract, the vendor is effectively transferring the obligation to get a certificate of compliance to the purchaser, who will have 90 days from the settlement date to do so,
  • A certificate of compliance or non-compliance implies that the pool is registered but if an occupation certificate is used, evidence that the pool is registered must also be attached to the contract,
  • For a checklist on fencing requirements for all types of pools and spas, go to

If you’d like to know more about your legal requirements with regard to selling a property with a swimming pool, then come and talk to us at All About Conveyancing.

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Confused about benefits available to Home Buyers?

What exactly is available right now to home buyers in the way of grants and other benefits? The current position with grants and benefits can seem confusing because it has changed many times over the past few years.

Currently as at September 2016, the only benefits available to home buyers relate to new homes. If you are purchasing a new home or vacant land that you intend to build a new home on, then there are benefits for first home buyers and there are other benefits for everyone else. (If you are purchasing a home that is not a new home, then there are no grants or benefits available to you right now.)


There are two benefits available to a first home buyer:

1. (a) Stamp Duty Exemptions and Concessions – First Home – New Home Scheme – For Vacant Land (where the purchaser intends to build and occupy)

i. If the purchase price is not greater than $350,000.00, then no stamp duty is payable,
ii. If the purchase price is greater than $350,000.00 and less than $450,000.00, then concessional duty is payable, which can be calculated by multiplying the purchaser price by 0.1574 and then subtracting $55,090.00.
iii. If the purchase price is $450,000.00 or greater, then no discounts or concessions are available.

1.(b) Stamp Duty Exemptions and Concessions – First Home – New Home Scheme – Homes (where the purchaser intends to occupy the home)

i. If the purchase price is not greater than $550,000.00, then no stamp duty is payable,
ii. If the purchase price is greater than $550,000.00 and less than $650,000.00, then concessional duty is payable, which can be calculated by multiplying the Purchaser price by 0.2474 and then subtracting $136,070.00.
iii. If the purchase price is $650,000.00 or greater, then no discounts or concessions are available.

2. Grants – First Home Owner Grant (New Homes)
If the purchaser (and their spouse) has never received a first home owner grant, nor owned and occupied a property before AND the purchase price is not greater than $750,000.00, then a grant of $10,000.00 is available.

A grant of $5,000.00 is available for anyone to purchase a new home, a home off the plan and vacant land. Several conditions apply:
• For new homes, the purchase price cannot exceed $650,000.00 and for vacant land, the purchase price cannot exceed $450,000.00,
• Each purchaser is limited to 1 grant per financial year,
• Where the grant has already been provided on a particular property, no other person can claim the grant on the same property,
• If you receive a First Home Buyers grant, then you cannot also receive a New Home Grant on the same property.

Still confused? All About Conveyancing can help you to navigate the rules and regulations around purchasing property, and ensure that you know what you are eligble for and can receive in terms of grants and benefits.  Make sure you talk to us before you decide on a course of action.

Conveyancing Posts, First Home Buyers, Home Owner Grants , , , ,

New Conveyancing Rules for Verification of Identity (VOI)

A prudent conveyancer would have always taken reasonable steps to verify the identity of the client and the client’s authority to deal in a transaction.

New Conveyancing Rules have now been introduced by the NSW Government’s Land and Property Information (LPI) to mandate appropriate steps are taken, such that:
• Every client (or person acting on behalf of the client) must have their identity and authority verified;
• Evidence supporting the verification must be kept for at least 7 years.

One of the drivers for this requirement is the introduction of electronic lodgements and settlements and the NSW Registrar General has defined a set of “Model Participation Rules” for those electronic transactions. Within the Model Participation Rules is a standard for VOI. If the Conveyancer follows the standard, then they will be deemed to have taken reasonable steps and thereby will be afforded “safe harbour” in the event of a fraud.

To be within the standard, the Conveyancer may undertake a client interview personally or use an identity agent to do so. For Australian clients, there are several identity agents, one of which is Australia Post and for overseas clients, an Australian Embassy or Consular Office will need to be found. In all cases, the standard needs to be followed. The person being verified must produce original documents, which are grouped in client categories, the key documents being passport and drivers licence.

If the standard is not followed, then the Conveyancer must take alternative reasonable steps and the reasonableness will be determined by the circumstances of the situation.

Difficulties can arise for certain clients because:
• Attending the office of an identity agent or having them come to you can involve significant time, travel and cost,
• Not all Australia Post branches participate as identity agents,
• The key documents may not always be held and available.

For more information go to the NSW Land and Property Information at

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Agents Disclosure Requirement regarding Property Inspection Reports

Starting 15 August 2016, Real Estate Agents have disclosure requirements related to pre-purchase property inspection reports. The concept is for these requirements to make it easier, and potentially cheaper, for a prospective home buyer to obtain pre-purchase building and pest inspection reports, and strata, neighbourhood or community scheme reports.

The agent is required to make a record of the following property inspection reports, but they only need to provide this information when the prospective buyer asks for the Sale Contract for the property.

• a building inspection report
• a pest inspection report
• a strata/community/neighbourhood inspection report
• a section 109 Certificate under the Strata Schemes Management Act 1996

The information required to be kept includes:
• the date on which the inspection was conducted
• who requested the report
• who prepared the report and their contact details
• whether the report author has professional indemnity insurance
• whether the report is available for re-purchase.

The following points are relevant to these requirements:
1. The agent is only required to keep records of reports that they are aware of – they are not required to make exhaustive enquiries to discover whether reports have been done,
2. No other parties, such as the vendor, the purchaser or the inspector have an obligation to tell the agent that the report exists,
3. Agents do not have to have a copy of the report itself,
4. The disclosure obligation of the agent arises only at the time the Purchaser asks for a copy of the Contract for Sale.

Conveyancing Posts

Swimming Pools

What you need to do if you own a Pool:

  1. Register it. This is now compulsory. Your pool can be registered online at If your pool is not registered, you will be liable for a $220 penalty.
  2. From 29 April 2016, you will be required to provide a certificate of pool compliance when you sell your home (or even lease your home).

You can find more information on what compliance means at:




Conveyancing Posts

Pre-Settlement Inspections

The Importance of that Final Inspection:

You are entitled to a final inspection of the property you are buying before you take possession of it. By this we mean that the Vendor cannot refuse you a final inspection within the last three days prior to settlement of your contract.

This inspection is probably the most important one of all.

The best time to do that inspection is after the property has been vacated by the previous occupants and as close to the time of settlement as possible. This narrows the window of opportunity for something to go wrong.

Things to Look for:

This inspection is all about the fact that you agreed to buy the property in a particular state (ie. the state it was in at the time of exchange of contracts). Therefore:

  1. Is everything that was in working order at that  time still in working order,
  2. Do those items included in the sale remain on the property,
  3. Has there been any damage to anything (other than through normal wear and tear),
  4. Has there been any excess rubbish left on the property.

Let’s not be picky about this; if the issue is small then just get on with it, but if you consider the issue is unjust then your best chance of getting that issue resolved is to request that it be resolved before you hand your money over.

What can you do about it ?

If you find an issue that you are unwilling to accept, then you have a couple of options:

  1. Since the Vendor is in breach of contract, you can with-hold settlement until the matter is resolved. Neither party can terminate the contract immediately for such a breach but you can delay settlement and give the Vendor time to resolve the problem,
  2. If a delay is not what you want (e.g. you may have already packed up your removalist and be waiting to move in), then it may be possible to continue with settlement but to with-hold part payment to the Vendor until the matter is resolved. Talk to your Licensed Conveyancer about arranging this.
Conveyancing Posts, General

The Neighborhood

You should ensure that the neighborhood that you are buying into meets your expectations. Do your homework.

  • Is the location suitable in terms of proximity to schools, parks, transport, medical facilities? You can find out these things through the council’s website and other on-line facilities if you are not in the area,
  • Drive by the property at all times of the day and in all weather conditions to get a feel for the neighborhood.
  • Talk to neighbors about their own experiences.

Do whatever you need to ensure that you are making a good choice not just in the house but also in the neighborhood.

If you want to find out more about this topic or others, just ask us or check out this web page:

Conveyancing Posts, General

Let the Buyer Beware


You’ve probably heard this term before but what does it mean to you. Well, it is latin for “Let the buyer beware”. This is a doctrine applying to property whereby the buyer cannot recover from the seller for defects on the improvements.

One of the most important terms of the Contract is that you are purchasing the improvements and inclusions in their “current condition and state of repair”.

Perhaps the most common issue arising at the time of settlement is that the buyer finds a fault with the building or one if the items included in the sale that they didn’t previously know about. If you can prove that the fault was not there on the day you exchanged contracts to purchase the property, then the Vendor should correct the problem. “Proving it” is the issue.

There is probably no limit to the extent of pre-purchase inspections that you could do. However, they inconvenience the Vendor and they take time as well as costing you money so you need to be reasonable about it. Inspections that we would consider essential include:

Your own inspections – You should probably look at the property another time before locking yourself into a contract. You will notice more of the “little things” the second time. How far do you go ? Well, there are no rules; some people turn all the lights on to see if they work, they turn the elements of the stove on to see if it works, the air conditioner, the fans, the taps for water pressure, etc. Some people take photographs so that they can check before settlement that everything they expected to remain on the property have indeed remained on the property. It is up to you; the main thing is to satisfy yourself of the things that are important to you.

Pest Inspection – if the building has termites when you exchange contracts, then you have bought the termites as well. We would always recommend a pest inspection, it’s a small price to pay for certainty and you can’t be certain unless you get someone that knows what they are doing to look properly. Not only is a professional inspector qualified but he is insured against making a mistake. This one is a must.

Building Inspection – sometimes the building inspector finds major faults in the buildings to the extent that the buyer doesn’t proceed with the purchase. More often though, he will find things that you should know about before you buy because then you will know the things you can work on to prevent more significant damage later on. The building inspector will always find a fault because no building is perfect and whether that fault is minor or major, you should know about it.

If is often a good idea to do your inspections at different times of the day and in extreme weather conditions. For example, it will be hard to gauge the effectiveness of drainage when it is not raining, or of sunlight at night time.

If you want to find out more about this topic or others, check out this web page:

Conveyancing Posts, General